We Adopted a Barred Owl!

Last updated on May 1st, 2018 at 04:15 pm

adopt_web_barred_owl_lp
Photo courtesy of Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

I love the view from my desk. Every so often a barred Owl will swoop by and perch on the tree directly outside of my window. If you keep up with us on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a few photos of him throughout the year. The marketing department has grown so fond of our new feathered friend that we’ve decided to Adopt a Barred Owl through VINS ‘Adopt a Raptor’ program. This program supports Barred Owls by helping to provide the specialized care needed by these unique creatures who live at VINS Nature Center.

About the Barred Owl

This owl is highly vocal, giving a loud and resounding call, which is often phrased as “Who, cooks, for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?” Like some other owl species, Barred Owls will call in the daytime as well as at night. Mates will duet, but the male’s voice is deeper and mellower. Many other vocalizations are made which range from a short yelp or bark to a frenzied and raucous monkey-like squall.

Pairs of Barred Owls mate for life, and territories and nest sites are maintained for many years. They also care for their young for at least 4 months, much longer than most other owls. -VINS

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

A Visit To The Windham County Humane Society!

Spending 8 hours a day at a desk can be tough. No matter how awesome I think my job is (I get to share the story of an eco-friendly, Vermont business via social media–how cool is that?) there are some days when sitting in front of a computer screen is just plain hard. And then there are days that remind me of why I decided to apply at Vermont Woods Studios in the first place, and yesterday was certainly one of them.

We love animals. We really do. From the creepy crawly ones that spend their time sitting in murky pond water, to the fuzzy ones you cuddle up with on your couch. We love to support the organizations that work to give them better lives too! Earlier in the year several of the Green Team members attended the Windham County Humane Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Wags to Riches. We even had a few donated items up for auction at the fundraiser! Fun was had and animals were helped and all in all we had a great time.

So when we saw that the Windham County Humane Society was in real need of food for the animals who stay at the shelter, we were more than eager to help out. With Peggy’s help buying a few extra bags, Nina and I gathered up some kibble and headed over to WCHS. I try not to go there too often, because I might end up coming home with something, like a new puppy, but the WCHS staff was happy and helpful and it was a great visit!

 

Windham County Humane Society
This is me, looking silly next to my boyfriend’s car. +10 points if you can guess what his favorite coffee shop is?
Windham County Humane Society
This kibble was heavy. Real heavy. Thankfully I had Nina there to do the heavy lifting. Thanks Nina! 
Windham County Humane Society
See, I told you Nina is strong! That bag is half her size. Anyway, the WCHS staff members make great models (and check out their new T-shirts!)

If you’d like to see more of what we do around the community, check out our new community involvement page. We’re always working on some new project to make the world a brighter and better place!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Coverts: Managing Woodlands for Wildlife

Vermont Coverts Cohort:  Woodlands for Wildlife
These are the amazing people in my cohort at last week’s Vermont Coverts workshop: “Woodlands for Wildlife”.  The word “covert” (pronounced cuh-vert) is an old English term meaning a thicket, home or hiding place for animals.

After locating our fine furniture and home decor store on a 100 acre wood in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest (see my last post), I found myself in the familiar position of trying to do something I knew little about.  How would we properly manage this woodland for wildlife and sustainability?  My friends Kathleen Wanner (Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association VWMA) and Lynn Levine (a professional forester) suggested that Ken and I attend the Vermont Coverts:  Woodlands for Wildlife Cooperator Training.  What a great idea!

Mess is best when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife
One of the key points we learned about managing our woodlands is that “mess is best” when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife.  Forests need to be thinned with plenty of coarse woody debris remaining on the floor to provide cover for animals.

The program was last weekend at the Woods of Wikahowi in Northfield, VT.  Ken had to cancel at the last minute but I attended along with a dozen or so like-minded landowners from all across Vermont.  Because 80% of Vermont’s forestland is owned privately, the Coverts organization concluded that the key to sustaining our state’s forests & wildlife is education of private landowners.  They provide a free 3-day training course every Spring and every Fall, focusing on classroom and field studies in forest and wildlife management.

Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.
Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.

The course was taught by Vermont’s foremost experts in forestry & wildlife including:

  • Lisa Sausville, Executive Director, Vermont Coverts
  • Mary Sisock, UVM Extension Forester
  • Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Dan Singleton, Washington County Forester
  • Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon VT
  • Kathy Decker, VT Forest, Parks and Recreation
  • Rich Chalmers, VP VT Coverts
Maple is Vermont's Most Important Hardwood Tree
The Maple is Vermont’s most important tree.  Here Rich Chalmers is showing us his newly built sugar house– made from timbers logged in the surrounding forest.

VT Coverts is so committed to their mission that they offer the course for free, including food and lodging!  Dedicated Coverts members work hard to meet expenses through grants and fundraising programs.  If you own woodlands in Vermont or know someone who does, please refer them to the Coverts program.  It’s an unforgettable weekend with fascinating people and thought-provoking discussion. The graduates of the program hold the future of Vermont’s forests in their hands.

Vermont Coverts | Reference Books | Sustainable Forestry
Some of the handouts from Vermont Coverts.  Click here to apply for the next Vermont Coverts Training workshop.  Did I mention the training is FREE?

 

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

A Fine Furniture Store in the Middle of the Woods?

Last updated on June 1st, 2014 at 09:58 am

Sustainable Furniture Store

People often ask me why on earth we located our new sustainable furniture store in the middle of Vermont’s woodlands.  The truth is that I don’t see Vermont Woods Studios as a furniture store.  Yes we have IMHO a beautiful showcase of the best quality handmade furniture Vermont has to offer.  But our business was built first and foremost, out of my passion for wildlife & forest conservation.  I wanted to show people where their furniture comes from.  And I wanted to appeal to them to buy furniture and flooring that come from forests that are re-planted and professionally managed for wildlife & sustainability.

We located Stonehurst in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest…

  • so customers could enjoy the 100 acre woodland we’re on and experience the beauty of the forest
  • so we could raise awareness about forest conservation and the fact that much of the wood furniture and flooring in America is made from imported rainforest timber that’s being mowed down at the mind-boggling rate of over 1 acre/second
  • so we could persuade people to buy American made furniture and flooring– a healthier, more sustainable choice for both people & planet
  • so we could inspire people to change the world

For the first 7 years our Vermont Woods Studios was an online furniture store.  Our staff worked out of a spare bedroom in my house.  When customers wanted to visit us we would invite them to Ken’s tiny workshop in the back of the house.  But as business grew and more people wanted to visit, we figured maybe it was safe to set up shop in a more suitable location.  From the very beginning we knew it had to be in the woods.

Next post: Learning to manage our 100 acre woodland for wildlife conservation.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

From Forest (creatures) to Furniture: Our Salamander Story

Last updated on May 27th, 2018 at 05:16 pm

This photo was taken by Lori S. of Georgia, Vermont who shared this photo on the Vermont State Parks facebook page!

Picture this: It’s past 10pm and Peggy is outside in her rainboots, a bright yellow raincoat, and some reflective gear. She has a bucket on her arm, a flashlight in one hand, and a big spotted salamander in her other hand. It’s cold and raining and way past her bedtime but dozens of these local amphibians need her help! Yep, It’s salamander migration season! For the past 15 years Peggy has been helping these Spot-tacular salamanders make it across busy roads towards the vernal pools they use for breeding. With the help of great organizations like BEEC, we’ve saved hundreds of salamanders from being run over by cars (and depending on the amount of traffic, this can result in huge dents in the salamander population)!

Helping Salamanders at Stonehurst
Smile, you’re on Salamander camera! These little guys were making moves right around Stonehurst. 

You may be wondering why the owner of a furniture company is spending her free time helping frogs and salamanders cross the roads.  I can assure you that it’s actually very relevant and important work, and it’s quite symbolic of the exact reason she started Vermont Woods Studios in the first place.

Our forests are so much more than just trees. When Peggy started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, she  was inspired to help save disappearing animal habitats by promoting sustainable forestry. Did you know that almost every species of large primate & big cat are endangered? While these salamanders aren’t endangered (at least not yet), we want to make sure it stays that way! These salamanders have been following the same migration patterns for hundreds of years, way before roads and cars and all of the man-made things that put them in danger. On nights where we might have missed them crossing, there is evidence left on the roads of the threat to the survival of these crawly creatures that cars pose.

The least we can do is help these slow movers make it to where they’re headed.

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Here’s my #NatureSelfie! That’s Peggy in the background making her way to check up on the salamander eggs.
Salamander photos
You can find many different types of eggs in local Vernal pools. Can you guess which ones are Spotted Salamander eggs?

After the salamanders have crossed and made it to the vernal pools, we visit them to see how many egg clusters we can find. This helps us keep track of the success of the salamanders each year and assures us that our efforts are making a difference!

All in all, we take care and keep track of the success of the salamander migration because we care about our environment– even the smallest parts! If you’re interested in learning more about helping salamanders, check out the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center website.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Our Green Mission: Walking the Talk

Last updated on October 20th, 2017 at 03:17 pm

Stonehurst: A Sustainable Furniture Store with a Green Mission
Our sustainable furniture showroom at Stonehurst sits on a 100 acre wooded parcel in Vernon, Vermont.  This is the view out our back windows– also a place for weekly meetings (weather permitting) and a backdrop for forest conservation projects.

Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store almost nine years ago.  As a woodworker, Ken’s interest was in earning a living by promoting the tradition of high quality Vermont made wood furniture.  For me, the project was about forest conservation and my desire to help protect forest habitat and wildlife for future generations*.   Over the years it’s been a challenge managing this yin-yang pair of objectives but I think we’ve been able to maintain a pretty good balance.

Stonehurst Opens Up New Opportunities for Forest Conservation

This year we have a chance to bring a whole new dimension to our forest conservation mission through our newly acquired property at Stonehurst.  The farmhouse we purchased and renovated into a Vermont made furniture gallery sits on 100 wooded acres in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest.  In the past our environmental mission was largely fulfilled by donating to like-minded non-profits**, but now we can also also partner with them by providing forest habitat for various conservation projects.

Join Us!

Below are a few conservation activities we’re supporting for 2014:

  • Woodlands for Wildlife – Vermont Coverts educates landowners in sound forest management practices and the principles of stewardship for the enhancement of wildlife.  Ken and I are attending their 3-day seminar on forest and wildlife management this spring to learn how to improve wildlife habitat and provide better conditions for native deer, turkeys, moose, bear, birds, bob cats, chipmunks, squirrels and other species that may be living at Stonehurst.
  • MonarchWatch – When Kendall and Riley were in elementary school we used to capture monarch caterpillars, watch their metamorphosis and tag the butterflies before waving them off on their epic migration to Mexico every fall.  But for the past several years I haven’t seen even a single monarch.  So this year we’ll support Chip Taylor at MonarchWatch by planting butterfly gardens (including milkweed) and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Vermont Center for Eco Studies– VCE is a group of Vermont’s foremost conservation scientists who inspire citizen volunteers across Vermont and around the world.  We’ve been supporting them for years and are excited about being able to use Stonehurst as a place to gather data for their many programs including:
    • Vernal pool mapping
    • VT reptile and amphibian atlas
    • VT breeding bird survey
  • Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center – BEEC’s annual Salamander Soiree is this Saturday April 5th from 6-8:30pm in Brattleboro at the River Garden on Main Street.  We’ll be there to help recruit crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration.

If you’re in our neighborhood and share similar interests, please stop by Stonehurst, give us a call or connect with us on Facebook.  Let us know what you’re working on and how we can help.  As the southern most corner of Vermont, Vernon can play a significant role in our state’s conservation efforts.  Let’s make it happen!

* We are losing the worlds forests at a rate of > 1 acre/second.  A major factor in deforestation is widespread illegal logging for timber that’s used to make cheap furniture sold by IKEA, Home Depot and other big-box stores.  Our goal at Vermont Woods Studios is to help raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy sustainable furniture made from legally harvested wood.

** The non-profits we’ve supported include the World Wildlife Fund WWF, The Nature Conservancy TNC, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC, Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE and others working to conserve forests and wildlife.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

IKEA Cuts Down 600 Year Old Trees, Suspended From FSC

Last updated on March 18th, 2019 at 10:03 am

Intact old-growth forest on land leased by IKEA/Swedwood in Russian
Intact old-growth forest on land leased by IKEA/Swedwood in Russian Karelia. Photo © Robert Svensson, Protect the Forest 2011.

 IKEA: A Trusted Sustainable Furniture Source? Not so quick.

While furniture giant IKEA has been leading campaigns for their use of sustainably sourced cotton, and promoting LED lighting & solar panels in their stores– they apparently made the mistake of not paying attention to where their wood comes from. Already criticized for their staggering wood usage (IKEA uses a whopping 1% of the entire earths forests for their furniture), they are  now facing harsh criticism for cutting down old growth trees in Karelia, Russia.

Swedwood, IKEA’s forestry subsidiary, was given lease to log 700,000 acres of Russian forest as long as they avoided old growth trees and trees in specified protected areas. A recent audit done by the Forest Stewardship Council revealed “major deviations” from regulations, including cutting down 600+ year old trees.

Environmental organizations had been voicing their concern about IKEA’s logging practices in Karelia for years– PFS (Protect the Forest, Sweden) apparently handed Swedwood over 180,000 signatures and a joint statement with criticisms of their forestry practices and demands to transform their habits to protect the valuable old growth forests over a year ago.

 

Protestors with a sign in Swedish that reads: "Hello, our furniture is made of old-growth forests. At IKEA you get low prices at any cost." Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0530-hance-ikea-fsc-logging.html#eUSKYJMi98gOhYLu.99
Protestors with a sign in Swedish that reads: “Hello, our furniture is made of old-growth forests. At IKEA you get low prices at any cost.”

IKEA’s infraction resulted in the Forest Stewardship Council temporarily stripping them of their certification. Despite the withdrawal of IKEA’s FSC certification for their illegal logging, insufficient dialogue, lack of environmental consideration and work environment issues– many believe that FSC is not addressing key issues.

According to Linda Ellegaard Nordstrom, “The report raises several deficiencies, but does not describe the main problem, which is that pioneer exploitation, with fragmenting and breaking into the last intact forest landscapes and tracts, does not fit to FSC’s principles and criteria. Thus we believe that the FSC label is still far from being a guarantee for sustainable forestry, Together with Russian environmental organizations we have suggested to IKEA that they, as an influential multinational corporation, should set a good example by announcing that they will no longer log or buy timber from intact old-growth forests, whether the forests are certified or not.”

An Ikea spokeswoman told The Sunday Times: “We see the suspension of the certificate as highly temporary. The deviations mainly cover issues related to facilities and equipment for our co-workers, forestry management as well as training of our forestry co-workers,” claiming that they have already corrected most of the violations.

While IKEA announced plans to stop operations in Karelia in 2014, it’s important for consumers to be critical of all businesses claiming to practice sustainability. IKEA is a leader in the furniture industry, using resources unimaginable to a small  business like Vermont Woods Studios. We would love to see them take true accountability for their actions.

logs.IKEASwedwood20.568
Destroyed old-growth forest with piles of timber on land leased by IKEA/Swedwood in Russian Karelia. Photo © Robert Svensson, Protect the Forest 2011. Retrieved from MongaBay.

 

 

 

Responsible forest management is at the heart of our mission as the devastating loss of these old trees is irreversible, and we can only hope that more furniture companies will take note of the criticism that IKEA is facing and take steps towards sustainable forestry. It’s up to consumers to make informed decisions about where they buy the products that ends up in their homes. If certification can’t stop this type of thing from happening, then people must be more careful than ever in picking a company that they care about and trust.

What are your thoughts? Leave us a note in the comments section, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter!

[Sources: Sustainable Brands, Triple Pundit]

 

 

|This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.|

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Truly Green Furnishings: Chemical Free, Organic Furniture

Last updated on December 7th, 2019 at 01:16 pm

Furniture is more than just something we sit on, sleep on, and eat on; our furniture becomes a part of our life story. It’s an integral piece of what makes a house a home. But for the chemically sensitive, or for those who are just serious about not bringing harsh chemicals into their homes, finding the right furniture can seem like an impossible task.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Just Released: New Online Tool Tracks Deforestation in ‘Near Real Time’

Last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 08:30 pm

Deforestation Tracker
“Highlighted in red, the new tool can show the scale of tree cover loss between 2000 and 2012” — via BBC News

Providing solutions to rain forest deforestation is a central part of our mission  at Vermont Woods Studios. We’re inspired to do our part in making illegal logging and mass deforestation a thing of the past, so needless to say, we’re more than excited about this new tool that provides practically real time information on tree loss. Our furniture is never made from rain forest lumber, but we are looking forward to a day when other furniture (and various wood product companies) will join us in the mission for a more sustainable world.

According to BBC News, “Despite greater awareness around of the world of the impacts of deforestation, the scale of forest loss since 2000 has been significant – data from Google and the University of Maryland says the world lost 230 million hectares of trees between 2000 and 2012.”

Staggering Statistics: “Forest campaigners say this is the equivalent of 50 football fields of trees being cut down, every minute of every day over the past 12 years.”

As noted in the BBC article, one of the major problems regarding deforestation is the lack of accurate information. To take on this challenge of obtaining accurate and reliable information, ” the US based World Resources Institute (WRI) has led the development of GFW, using half a billion high resolution images from Nasa’s Landsat programme.”

This program will make it harder for illegal loggers to continue clearcutting without accountability or consequences, as this new technology is “a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests,” said Dr Andrew Steer from WRI…From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship.

Tracking widespread illegal logging across the globe might seem like an impossible task, but “the technology is said to be easy to use and will incorporate information showing protected areas, logging, mining and palm oil concessions and daily forest fire alerts from Nasa.”

The tool will involve a global support system of concerned groups, citizens, and politicians.  So “when tree losses are detected, alerts can be sent out to a network of partners and citizens around the world who can take action.”

So what does this mean for the wood industry, and the consumers who support it?

According to Unilever CEO, Paul Polman, “As we strive to increase the visibility of where the ingredients for our products come from, the launch of Global Forest Watch – a fantastic, innovative tool – will provide the information we urgently need to make the right decisions.”

For more info, check out the original BBC article.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Investing in the Community: VWS Donates to Windham County Humane Society

Vermont Woods Studios Mission
Loryn, our community outreach coordinator, is passionate about the animals and used to work with WCHS before coming to Vermont Woods Studios. She loves getting out into the community and helping out a good cause; both at work and during her free time.

Supporting good community causes is a big part of our mission, and it’s something that each of us at Vermont Woods Studios is passionate about personally. So it makes sense that we didn’t hesitate to get over to the Windham County Humane Society, even during a snowstorm. If there’s one thing that separates Vermonters from the rest, it’s our ability to completely go on with our day normally in weather conditions that the rest of the country panics about. That, and our dedication to helping out our neighbors, of course!

(For the record, none of us actually knew it would be snowing this much when we ventured out. Safety first!)

Yesterday, Loryn & I visited the humane society to drop off our donations to their Wags to Riches auction and fundraiser–and to pick up our tickets for the event! I even got a new dog tag, for my darling Chihuahua, Pappy!

The WCHS team was super appreciative of our donation, and emphasized how much community support matters to them. Without the kind support of businesses and community members, WCHS wouldn’t be able to work as hard and help as many animals as they do. The Windham County Humane Society “is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of animals and enhancing the relationship between individuals and pets through adoption, education, advocacy, compassion and promotion of animal welfare.” They  help “stray, abandoned, neglected and surrendered pets by giving them a second chance at a healthy, happy life.”

We’re happy to support them, and are even more excited to attend the amazing Wags to Riches auction on March 1st. Loryn will be writing a blog about it when the date gets closer, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to contribute to WCHS, read more about ways to help out on their website!

 

| This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains. |

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.